The Community First Oxfordshire story

In October 2015, Community First Oxfordshire emerged out of Oxfordshire Rural Community Council (ORCC).

ORCC was founded in 1920 and was the oldest of the 38 Rural Community Councils’ in England.

Community First Oxfordshire follows the example of many other Rural Community Councils (RCCs) whose work is no longer confined to rural areas. We will continue to be a part of the national network of RCCs. And we will continue to provide the services of a rural community council. We will also be supporting Oxfordshire’s communities in all locations on health, housing, transport and community enterprise issues. Our mission is ‘to help communities help themselves’.

How we can help

  • Knowledge and practical experience: design and management of quality projects
  • Contacts: deep reach into networks of voluntary organisations and communities
  • Track record: communities and the statutory sector know we get results
  • Stakeholder management: with the community, statutory and private sectors
  • Partnership working: collaboration is at the heart of our work
  • Best practice: advice drawn from evidence of ‘what works’ in Oxfordshire and beyond

Our Staff

Tom McCulloch

Joint Chief Executive

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Tom is CFO’s joint Chief Executive. He has a Doctorate from the London School of Economics and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Rural Development. Tom also leads on CFO’s housing, infrastructure and Neighbourhood Planning (NP) activity. He has helped build CFO into the ‘go to’ local organisation for communities seeking high quality support throughout the NP process. This is underpinned by excellent relationships with Local Authorities. Tom is a former board member of the Cherwell Community Land Trust and has led recent research on social and community infrastructure and best practice in ‘placemaking’ on new housing developments for Cherwell District and South and Vale District Councils.

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Emily Lewis-Edwards

Joint Chief Executive

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Emily is our joint Chief Executive and has a Post Graduate Certificate in transport planning. She has worked with rural and urban communities for a number of years, supports the 60+ community transport schemes in the county and managed the Subsidised Transport Consultation on behalf of the County Council. She also leads on our health and ageing work and managed the Dementia Friendly Communities project.

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Rachael Riach

Development Project Manager

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Rachael is CFO’s Development Project Manager and newest member of the team. She has an MA in Planning and Sustainability and a BSc in Biology as well as a wide range of experience in planning both in Local Government (DM and Policy) and in consultancy (strategic land, appeals). In particular, Rachael has a wide range of experience and knowledge in all things Neighbourhood Planning having previously worked with and supported parish councils across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse to create plans as part of her previous role as a Neighbourhood Planning Policy Officer for the councils.

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Sue Hunt

Oil Scheme Administrator & Office Manager

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Sue has worked in the UK and Australia as customer services manager for a number of businesses. She manages our Oil Buying Scheme and has general office management responsibilities.

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Tessa Hall

Community Buildings and Retail Adviser

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Tessa previously worked for the Community Council for Berkshire for 10 years, teaching and putting on training events, managing funding for community projects, and carrying out consultation events. More recently, she has helped communities in West Berkshire develop Parish Plans and supported them to carry out projects from the plans. She has been working with Thatcham Town Council to get their Parish Plan refresh adopted by West Berkshire Council and to reconnect with all their amazing volunteers after all the hard work of producing their plan. Tessa likes walking, gardening, reading and loves singing, co-leading a community choir in Newbury.

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Hilary Lombard

Community Mobiliser

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Hilary has joined CFO as a Community and Neighbourhood Planning Mobiliser. Her role is to work with local communities to develop both Neighbourhood Plans and Community Led plans. In her previous roles, she has worked in both the voluntary and statutory sectors both in urban and rural settings. She has a wide experience of community engagement, involvement and development and is an experienced trainer in community development issues. She has also worked as a senior manager in a local authority strategy and policy unit and has been a Trustee of a national community development organisation.

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Andrea Pellegram MRTPI

CFO Planning Associate

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Dr Andrea Pellegram has 30 years experience working in town planning in England.  She has undertaken a number of roles including: planning director in a district council, head of minerals and waste planning in a county council, private sector planning applicant for major schemes, planning inspector, trainer and coach for local councils in planning, and has worked in regional and port planning.

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Lesley Montague

Community Development Worker - Heyford Park

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Lesley is the Community Development Worker for the Heyford Park Community Development Partnership (CFO, Cherwell District Council and Dorchester Living), based at Upper Heyford, She is supporting residents to develop a vibrant and self-sustaining community. Previously, Lesley has worked with vulnerable young people and adults in a variety of settings. She is a graduate of Ruskin College and volunteers in her local community.

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Our Board of Trustees

Jon Bright

Ian Corkin

Edward Dowler

Acting vice-chair

Gill Bindoff

Acting Chair

Malcolm Taylor


Julian Cooper

Natasha Eliot

Our Patrons

Jonathan Reuvid


Catherine Bearder


Celia Collett


Dr J V Sharp

Our partners and stakeholders

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